IS, V5, Chapter 2: Pride Part 3

How many people died during the Lumean Crusade? Most of them.

No matter how careful I was during my conquests, Wood Elves were just too damn fragile. During my first siege battle, I accidentally destroyed the whole city. Ironically, I was trying to use Hithu’s branches and vines to prevent too many of those idiots from dying… But it caused what was essentially an earthquake. The buildings obviously weren’t made to withstand heavy tremors, so a lot of them collapsed. Then there was a fire, and another fire, then a bunch of stockpiled oil exploded. There was a bunch of dry grains and hay stored in various places too. It just got way out of hand, too fast for me to stop it.

I learned my lesson though. Over two million lives lost in the process, but it reinforced the notion that Salvation was a really dangerous place to live. At least, before I started ‘fixing’ the place up. Actually, I took Ael Tol as an example and started working on a few tree-cities in Hithu State. Even if the ground collapsed, those trees were able to stay intact… Since they were connected to the gigantic World Tree stump below.

My failure also gave the Yuri-Mice more time to train their telepathic abilities. Of course, news that I razed the southernmost city of Lum, Lumenon, had a pretty nice impact on the morale of the other cities. The Lumean Elite weren’t affected too much, but the general population was terrified.

Around that time, I finally received a message from my most trusted and dangerous general: “Michael, I’m back. Brought food. Can’t find you.”

The moment that I heard from Amber, my mother telepathically screamed “Help! Michael, you have to help us! The skies are filled with giant monsters! Ah~! And purple fire!”

Unsurprisingly, the fiery tigress brought plenty of trouble when she climbed up the side of Hithu. All of those Wyverns, Rocs and other creatures that were peacefully staying along the branches of the World Tree, suddenly realized that the land above them had become habitable. A consequence of the rise in ambient mana-density.

I put off my conquest for the moment, since I needed to teleport over to the northernmost edge of Hithu State. It was part of the land that remained intact, even as the majority of Hithu was collapsing into the abyss. There were no mountains, just a wooded region, leading to a sheer drop. A lake was nearby the blue weeping willow that I teleported to…

“Mom, calm down. Relax, you and the brats aren’t even big enough to be a snack for those bastards.” A few dozen Pixies and my mother all clung to my armor in terror, as they watched the huge beasts roaring and fighting in the sky.

The Wyverns, Rocs and even the Giant Parrots were all busy bickering with each other over territory. They weren’t crazy like the demonic beasts in the Fourth Ring, but most of them weren’t quite on the level of Beast Tribe either.

Regardless of whether they were intelligent enough to understand, some rules needed to be set into place immediately. Otherwise there would’ve been constant chaos on the border of Hithu. We already had to worry about Lum invading from the west, so I started showing off my ‘diplomacy’ skills a bit.

“Everybody shut the fuck up and get your asses down here! Now!” As I shouted, I slammed my staff onto the ground and then thousands of giant vines shot up into the air. Those blue tendrils wrapped around all of the bigger and stronger creatures, while Amber landed next to me of her own volition.

The purple flames were extinguished, while her fur turned black, but her outfit didn’t change. She was wearing the cloak, armor and even had the same amount of arrows in her quivers, though some of their fletching was ruffled. Amber walked past me and pulled her scythe out of the head of a giant green Wyvern, before dragging the beast in front of me and growling “Raw or cooked? I’m too tired to do it myself…”

All the Pixies and my mother scattered away, as I hugged the giant tigress and whispered “Just place your hand on that blue tree and think about Karaville. Get some rest… I’ll wake you up when dinner is ready.”

She rubbed her helmet against mine and purred, before walking over to the glowing willow tree and vanishing in a beam of light. Then I turned towards the flocks of giant monsters and roared “If you can understand what I’m saying, then nod your head or speak! If you can’t, then you don’t need to be here anymore!”

After a few seconds, most of the Wyverns and birds nodded, growled or squawked in response. The rest of them were teleported to the base of Hithu, while the vines that were holding them swiftly retreated underground. About three thousand creatures were left, which included two purple Draconic Treants and a blazing red Phoenix-like bird. They were powerful enough to break free of the vines, but also smart enough to realize that I could still kill them very easily.

“Okay, now that I have your attention, these are the rules…” I released all of the beasts from the vines and some of them directly flew away, back down towards their nests in the branches of Hithu. I raised my staff into the air and projected a massive image of a map into the sky. It showed the current state of Salvation in great detail, because it was directly taken from the telepathic perception of Hithu itself.

Honestly, I’m not that comfortable showing off with someone or something else’s power, but at least I was able to use the tree stump more efficiently than those two brats. Anyway, I was holding the staff with my left hand and pointing with my right index finger. I created a bunch of red circles around the edges of Hithu’s cliffs, then explained “These are the properties that are available for purchase. Yes, you need to buy them. Of course, I know that you kids probably don’t have any money and I don’t need your ‘treasures’ or whatever. What I care about is maintaining some semblance of peace and order in Salvation. I’m sure that there will be plenty of other assholes flying up here, wanting to claim the land for their own as well.”

The blazing phoenix flapped its wings and hopped a few hundred meters, landing closer to me. Then asked in a high-pitched voice, “I apologize for intruding upon your territory without permission… My name is Encindia, the Spirit of Conflagration. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance…”

“Mike, or Michael. It’s nice to meet you too.” I nodded to the burning bird and then continued, “As I was saying, you can all purchase a certain amount of land as your own personal property. So long as you don’t rape, enslave or murder anyone, I really don’t care what you do with your territory. You can turn it into a forest filled with magical beasts to hunt and eat, treat it as a resort, act as a landlord and rent it out… Do what you want. The price however, is that you need to protect it and make sure to enforce my rules within your own lands.”

Encindia’s flaming crown feathers fluffed up and she cautiously asked “What benefits will we receive from this? Are you not forcing us to become guardians of this place? You say that we cannot enslave lesser beings, yet are you not attempting to enslave us?”

She was actually pretty smart compared to the rest of them, who for the most part, had no clue what slavery even meant. However, her foresight was rather narrow…

“No, I don’t think you quite understand. Owning the property is the point. You’ll obviously need to protect it yourself, or eventually hire other people to do it for you, but you’ll definitely receive more benefits than living on your little tree-branch down there.” I took off my mask and smirked at them, “What separates ‘Beasts’ like the lot of you, from humanoids like myself?”

A giant crimson pterodactyl-shaped Wyvern roared at me and refuted “Beasts?! If you didn’t control the Spirit of Lorthon, you would be nothing compared to us! I could crush you with a single peck!”

I sighed, put the mask back on, pulled out the revolver from my right hip-holster and shot a single bullet through its left shoulder. It was only made out of some mithril and mana-crystals, but the damage was pretty severe. I wouldn’t have wasted my Luna-ammo on such a ‘small-fry’.

“Grah~!” It roared and charged at me instinctively, then I shot a few rounds into its knees and hands. Eventually it collapsed onto the ground and was unable to get up. The others just watched, some were even ‘cackling’ or mocking the crippled Wyvern.

“Do you understand now? This is the difference between beasts and humanoids. The ability to create and utilize weapons, armor and tools… It’s what allows ‘us’, to be better than you. It isn’t just about survival or power either. By owning a territory and acting as guardians, you’ll be able to have employees who work for you… Do the things that you can’t, in order for you to protect them. In the future, when you either get sick, injured or become too old to take care of yourself, you can rely on them to protect you instead. That’s the whole point of a community, isn’t it?”

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